Patriots Afc East Titles For Essays

Somewhat lost in the chaotic aftermath of the Patriots’ stunning win against the Steelers on Sunday was the remarkable fact that Bill Belichick’s team clinched a ninth consecutive AFC East division title.

The span of nine straight division wins is an NFL record:

And as NFL writers noted, the lack of attention on this story speaks for itself:

Yet for Patriots fans who remember the pre-Belichick history of the team, this supposed afterthought of a milestone still carries weight.

For example:

  • In the preceding 40 seasons before Belichick was named head coach of the Patriots, New England won the division five times.
  • In the Belichick era, the Patriots have won the AFC East 15 times in 18 seasons.
  • Bill Belichick would have to coach for another 102 seasons and not win the division in that span in order to rebalance the historical frequency of Patriots division titles before his arrival in 2000. Prior to Belichick (1960-1999), the Patriots averaged winning the AFC East once every eight years. In Belichick’s time, the average is currently once every 1.2 years.
  • The Cleveland Browns, currently 0-14, last won their division in 1989, the same year that Rob Gronkowski was born.
  • Since 2001, the Patriots have won more than three times as many AFC East titles as the Jets have in their entire history, stretching back to 1960.
  • The Patriots have now won more consecutive division titles in their current streak alone (9) than the Detroit Lions have in their entire 87-year history (8).
  • In both seasons in the last 15 years when the Patriots didn’t win the AFC East, Belichick’s team finished with identical records as the division winner (9-7 in 2002, 11-5 in 2008), but lost on tiebreakers.
  • Since the realignment prior to the 2002 season, the Patriots have won 14 division titles. The next closest teams in that category are the Colts and Packers (with nine each), neither of whom will win the division this season.

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The American Football Conference – Eastern Division or AFC East is a division of the National Football League (NFL)'s American Football Conference (AFC). There are currently four teams that reside in the division: the Buffalo Bills (based in Orchard Park, New York); the Miami Dolphins (based in Miami Gardens, Florida); the New England Patriots (based in Foxborough, Massachusetts); and the New York Jets (based in East Rutherford, New Jersey).

Since the division's enfranchisement in 1960, with the creation of the American Football League, the division has been represented in nineteen Super Bowls and won eight of them. The most recent appearance and championship in the Super Bowl won by an AFC East team was the Patriots in Super Bowl LI.

Entering 2017 the Patriots had the most wins in the division's history, with a record of 476-383-9, with a playoff record of 32-19 (5-4 in Super Bowls) entering the playoffs of that season.[1] The Dolphins were second at 439-341-4 (having played 84 fewer games than their division rivals) with a playoff record of 20-21 (2-3 in Super Bowls).[2] The Bills were at 400-460-8 with a playoff record of 14-15 (with two American Football League titles) but winless having gone to four consecutive Super Bowls.[3] The Jets held a record of 392-468-8, with a playoff record of 12-13 including victory in Super Bowl III.[4]

In 2012, the Patriots broke a tie with the Dolphins for winning the most division titles; with subsequent division titles in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 the Patriots have won 20 AFL/AFC East division titles to Miami's 14. The Bills have won ten division titles, and the Jets have won four.

Two teams formerly in the division combined for ten AFL/AFC East titles – the Houston Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans) won four division titles (and the 1960 and 1961 league titles) during the AFL era[5] while the Baltimore–Indianapolis Colts won six division titles (and Super Bowl V) in the 32 seasons they were in the division.[6]

AFL Eastern Division[edit]

The American Football League Eastern Division was formed during the inaugural season of the American Football League in 1960, as a counterpart to the AFL Western Division. The divisional alignment consisted of the Buffalo Bills, Boston Patriots, New York Titans and Houston Oilers. The Miami Dolphins entered the AFL in 1966 as part of its Eastern division.[7]

The division was absorbed nearly intact with the AFL–NFL merger in 1970, but Houston was moved to the AFC Central (formerly the NFL Century Division, now the AFC North) and replaced by the closer Baltimore Colts (from the NFL Coastal Division, which became the NFC West). Despite relocating to Indianapolis, Indiana in 1984, the Colts continued to play in the AFC East until NFL expansion from 31 to 32 teams with the addition of the Houston Texans (successor club in Houston to the Oilers) and 2002 re-alignment when they were moved to the AFC South (the successor franchise to the Oilers, the Tennessee Titans, is also in the AFC South).[8]

Although Miami is farther south than the home cities of the other three teams, all of which are in the Northeast, all four AFC East teams have historical rivalries among them, dating from their years in the AFL during the 1960s.[9]

None of the AFC East teams currently plays within the central city of their metropolitan area:

All of the teams are or were coached by a first or second generation member of the Bill Parcellscoaching tree: the Patriots have Bill Belichick; the Dolphins had Tony Sparano; the Jets had Eric Mangini (who served as an assistant with both Belichick and Parcells); and the Bills had Dick Jauron (fired on November 17, 2009), who served as an assistant with former Parcells assistant Tom Coughlin. The Jets are now coached by Todd Bowles and the Bills were coached by Rex Ryan for 31 games (the entire 2015-16 season, and he was fired before the last game of the 2016-17 season and replaced with interim Head Coach Anthony Lynn). Parcells himself coached the Patriots (1993–6) and the Jets (1997–9) and was Vice President of Football Operations for the Dolphins until the summer of 2010.[10]

ESPN's Chris Berman often calls this division the "AFC Adams" due to its geographical similarity to the old Adams Division of the NHL, now succeeded by the Atlantic Division.

Along with the AFC (formerly AFL) West, the AFC East is the oldest NFL division in terms of creation date (1960).

Division lineups[edit]

Place cursor over year for division champ or Super Bowl team.

AFC East Division
2000s
020304050607080910111213141516171819
New England Patriots
Buffalo Bills
New York Jets
Miami Dolphins
    Team not in division      Division Won AFL Championship      Division Won AFC Championship      Division Won Super Bowl
A Boston Patriots renamed to New England Patriots.
B Houston Oilers move to newly created AFC Central division (1970 season) and later are renamed the Tennessee Oilers (1997 season), then Tennessee Titans(1999 season). Moved to AFC South in 2002.
C New York Titans renamed to New York Jets (1963 season)
D Miami Dolphins enfranchised (1966 season)
E Baltimore Colts merge from NFL's Western Division to AFC East (1970 season)
F Baltimore Colts relocate to Indianapolis subsequently renamed Indianapolis Colts(1984 season). Moved to AFC South in 2002.

Division champions[edit]

SeasonTeamRecordPlayoff Results
1960Houston Oilers10–4–0Won AFL Championship Game
1961Houston Oilers10–3–1Won AFL Championship Game
1962Houston Oilers11–3–0Lost AFL Championship Game
1963Boston Patriots7–6–1Won Divisional Playoff, Lost AFL Championship Game
1964Buffalo Bills12–2–0Won AFL Championship Game
1965Buffalo Bills10–3–1Won AFL Championship Game
1966Buffalo Bills9–4–1Lost AFL Championship Game
1967Houston Oilers9–4–1Lost AFL Championship Game
1968New York Jets11–3–0Won AFL Championship Game, Won Super Bowl III
1969New York Jets10–4–0Lost Inter-Divisional Playoffs
1970Baltimore Colts11–2–1Won Divisional and AFC Championship Games, Won Super Bowl V0
1971Miami Dolphins10–3–1Won Divisional and AFC Championship Games, Lost Super Bowl VI
1972Miami Dolphins14–0–0Won Divisional and AFC Championship Games, Won Super Bowl VII
1973Miami Dolphins12–2–0Won Divisional and AFC Championship Games, Won Super Bowl VIII
1974Miami Dolphins11–3–0Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
1975Baltimore Colts10–4–0Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
1976Baltimore Colts11–3–0Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
1977Baltimore Colts10–4–0Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
1978New England Patriots11–5–0Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
1979Miami Dolphins10–6–0Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
1980Buffalo Bills11–5–0Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
1981Miami Dolphins11–4–1Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
1982+Miami Dolphins7–2–0Won AFC First Round, Second Round and Championship Games, Lost Super Bowl XVII0
1983Miami Dolphins12–4–0Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
1984Miami Dolphins14–2–0Won Divisional and AFC Championship Games, Lost Super Bowl XIX
1985Miami Dolphins12–4–0Won AFC Divisional Playoffs, Lost AFC Championship Game
1986New England Patriots11–5–0Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
1987Indianapolis Colts9–6–0Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
1988Buffalo Bills12–4–0Won AFC Divisional Playoffs, Lost AFC Championship Game
1989Buffalo Bills9–7–0Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
1990Buffalo Bills13–3–0Won Divisional and AFC Championship Games, Lost Super Bowl XXV
1991Buffalo Bills13–3–0Won Divisional and AFC Championship Games, Lost Super Bowl XXVI
1992Miami Dolphins11-5–0Won Divisional Game, lost AFC Championship Game
1993Buffalo Bills12–4–0Won Divisional and AFC Championship Games, Lost Super Bowl XXVIII
1994Miami Dolphins10–6–0Won Wild Card Game, Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
1995Buffalo Bills10–6–0Won Wild Card Game, Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
1996New England Patriots11–5–0Won Divisional and AFC Championship Games, Lost Super Bowl XXXI
1997New England Patriots10–6–0Won Wild Card Game, Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
1998New York Jets12–4–0Won Divisional Game, Lost AFC Championship Game
1999Indianapolis Colts13–3–0Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
2000Miami Dolphins11–5–0Won Wild Card Game, Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
2001New England Patriots11–5–0Won Divisional and AFC Championship Games, Won Super Bowl XXXVI
2002New York Jets9–7–0Won Wild Card Game, Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
2003New England Patriots14–2–0Won Divisional and AFC Championship Games, Won Super Bowl XXXVIII
2004New England Patriots14–2–0Won Divisional and AFC Championship Games, Won Super Bowl XXXIX
2005New England Patriots10–6–0Won Wild Card Game, Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
2006New England Patriots12–4–0Won Wild Card and AFC Divisional Games, Lost AFC Championship Game
2007New England Patriots16–0–0Won Divisional and AFC Championship Games, Lost Super Bowl XLII
2008Miami Dolphins11–5–0Lost AFC Wild Card Playoffs
2009New England Patriots10–6–0Lost AFC Wild Card Playoffs
2010New England Patriots14–2–0Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
2011New England Patriots13–3–0Won Divisional and AFC Championship Games, Lost Super Bowl XLVI
2012New England Patriots12–4–0Won AFC Divisional Playoffs, Lost AFC Championship Game
2013New England Patriots12–4–0Won AFC Divisional Playoffs, Lost AFC Championship Game
2014New England Patriots12–4–0Won AFC Divisional and AFC Championship Games, Won Super Bowl XLIX
2015New England Patriots12–4–0Won AFC Divisional Playoffs, Lost AFC Championship Game
2016New England Patriots14–2–0Won AFC Divisional and AFC Championship Games, Won Super Bowl LI
2017New England Patriots13-3-0Won AFC Divisional and AFC Championship Games, Lost Super Bowl LII
  • + – A players' strike in 1982 reduced the regular season to nine games. Thus, the league used a special 16-team playoff tournament just for this year. Division standings were ignored, Miami had the best record of the division teams.

Wildcard Qualifiers[edit]

SeasonTeamRecordPlayoff Results
1969Houston Oilers06–6–2Lost AFL Interdivisional Game
1970Miami Dolphins10–4–0Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
1971Baltimore Colts10–4–0Won AFC Divisional Playoffs, Lost AFC Championship Game
1974Buffalo Bills09–5–0Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
1976New England Patriots11–3–0Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
1978Miami Dolphins11–5–0Lost Wild Card Playoffs
1981New York Jets
Buffalo Bills
10–5–1
10–6–0
Lost Wild Card Playoffs
Won Wild Card Playoffs, Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
1982+New York Jets
New England Patriots
06–3–0
05–4–0
Won AFC First Round and Second Round, Lost AFC Championship Game0
Lost AFC First Round
1985New York Jets
New England Patriots
11–5–0
11–5–0
Lost AFC Wild Card Playoffs
Won Wild Card, Divisional and AFC Championship Games, Lost Super Bowl XX0
1986New York Jets10–6–0Won Wild Card Game, Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
1990Miami Dolphins12–4–0Won Wild Card Playoffs, Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
1991New York Jets08–8–0Lost AFC Wild Card Playoffs
1992Buffalo Bills11–5–0Won Wild Card, Divisional and AFC Championship Games, Lost Super Bowl XXVII0
1994New England Patriots10–6–0Lost AFC Wild Card Playoffs
1995Indianapolis Colts
Miami Dolphins
09–7–0
09–7–0
Won Wild Card and AFC Divisional Playoff games, Lost AFC Championship Game0
Lost AFC Wild Card Playoffs
1996Buffalo Bills
Indianapolis Colts
10–6–0
09–7–0
Lost AFC Wild Card Playoffs
Lost AFC Wild Card Playoffs
1997Miami Dolphins09–7–0Lost AFC Wild Card Playoffs
1998Miami Dolphins
Buffalo Bills
New England Patriots
10–6–0
10–6–0
09–7–0
Won Wild Card Playoffs, Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
Lost AFC Wild Card Playoffs
Lost AFC Wild Card Playoffs
1999Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins
11–5–0
09–7–0
Lost AFC Wild Card Playoffs
Won Wild Card Playoffs, Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
2000Indianapolis Colts10–6–0Lost AFC Wild Card Playoffs
2001Miami Dolphins
New York Jets
11–5–0
10–6–0
Lost AFC Wild Card Playoffs
Lost AFC Wild Card Playoffs
2004New York Jets10–6–0Won Wild Card Playoffs, Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs
2006New York Jets010–6–0Lost AFC Wild Card Playoffs
2009New York Jets09–7–0Won Wild Card and AFC Divisional Playoff games, Lost AFC Championship Game0
2010New York Jets11–5–0Won Wild Card and AFC Divisional Playoff games, Lost AFC Championship Game
2016Miami Dolphins10–6–0Lost AFC Wild Card Playoffs
2017Buffalo Bills9-7-0Lost AFC Wild Card Playoffs
  • + – A players' strike in 1982 reduced the regular season to nine games. Thus, the league used a special 16-team playoff tournament just for this year. Division standings were ignored, Miami had the best record of the division teams.

Total playoff berths while in the AFL/AFC East[edit]

(AFC East records 1960–2016 seasons)
Reflects Colts & Oilers results only while in the East Division.
In the sortable table below, teams can be ordered by name, number of division wins, playoff berths, or titles.

AFC East-Division--
Titles
-Playoff-
Berths
AFL
-Titles-
AFC
-Championships-
Super Bowl
-Championships-
Totals- 1960–201656955198

1 Realigned from NFL West in 1970 merger. Known as the Baltimore Colts before 1984. Realigned into the AFC South beginning with the 2002 NFL season.
2 Realigned into the AFC Central in 1970 merger, and into the AFC South in 2002. Known as Tennessee Oilers from 1997–98, and Tennessee Titans since 1999.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Locale of the current 4 AFC East teams

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